Andy Vander Woude

CEO and cofounder, Vast Enterprises
Andy Vander Woude

• Turning recycled plastic into the foundation of a potentially national masonry business

In early 2000, Troy Achterkirch and Steve Thorkelson, who had backgrounds in injection molding, started development on the foundational technology that would result in construction products that are both lighter in weight and greener in makeup. In 2007, the company that they and Andy Vander Woude put together brought to market its first product, a composite landscaping paver. The pavers have quickly attracted the attention of green builders and do-it-yourselfers, and that is helping pave the way for some large ambitions.

Vast’s pavers, which are made from recycled tires and plastic, weigh one-third as much as concrete. Each square foot of patio decking incorporates about half a car tire and 15 gallon-sized plastic containers. “Legos for adults,” is how Vander Woude describes the way Vast’s pavers intersect. The company’s products are manufactured at its plant in Crystal. In addition to its landscape pavers, Vast has introduced products for decks, driveways, and rooftops.

Currently, there is no national, name-brand concrete building products company because these materials are too heavy to haul over long distances. Though just four years old, Vast already has distribution in 22 states. In November, Firestone Building Products tapped Vast to manufacture a line of Firestone-branded composite pavers made using Vast’s “formula.”

“We have the capability to be the first national masonry company,” Vander Woude says. “And that’s really what our goal is.”